You are gifted. That is a fact. “But,” you might ask, “what are my gifts…how can I discover them?” I hear that. I have often asked the same question. It seems, we want to know because we believe that with this knowledge will also come an understanding of God’s will and purpose for our lives. In an attempt to answer what their gifts are (and what their purpose is), one place many people turn is to the modern Christian phenomena of “spiritual gift assessments.” If you were at Gather last Saturday, *hopefully* you remember that I mentioned that spiritual gift assessments can actually be dangerous. They can be dangerous for a couple reasons. One, because they usually only tell us what we are “naturally” good at and the ways God has already used us. And two, because their orientation for discovering God’s will is wonky at best. Honestly, spiritual gift assessments do little if any good and may actually be a stumbling block to discerning God’s will and purpose for us.
First of all, we have to remember that God may not use our “natural” abilities and that he may not even use us in the same way throughout our lives- he may, but we must remain open to the fact he may not! We absolutely must remain open and willing to be used in new ways and importantly, in ways that fly in the face of our “natural” abilities. Simply put, how we have been used and what we we think we are already “gifted” at are not good indicators of how God will use us in the future. Looking only to them may actually block God’s purpose from view. Think of it this way, do you think Moses would have scored high in public speaking/exhortation, leadership or compassion? Shoot, he was slow of speech, passed his leadership duties onto his brother and killed a man. How about Gideon- a man who was approached by God as he was fearing for his life and hiding in a hole? Would he have scored high in the very ways God ended up using use him (in faith and in leadership)? How about Peter? What would an assessment of gifts told him about his faith, leadership, evangelism, heck would he have scored high in anything? For that matter, would any of them scored high in anything? Nonetheless, we can see in retrospect that these are the ways God ultimately gifted them and used them to display His powerful ways. With this in mind, maybe it would be closer to helpful to see where we score poorly and pursue that area as God’s will and purpose!
Second, the entire orientation of spiritual gift testing is wonky at best. This is because the gift does not determine the call the call determines the gift! If Moses would have have used what he thought were his gifts to determine his call he certainly would have never fulfilled God’s call and purpose. Or, what about [king] David? Would he have ever thought he should go slay a giant based on what he would have thought were his gifts? No! Quite to the contrary! This same applies to all those mighty men and women of God who have gone before us. Again, the gift does not determine the call, but the call determines the gift! A spiritual gift is an ability or capacity that God gives you to fulfill His plans in you, and are not to be used as a means of telling you what his plans are! Treating them as such may, quite honestly, even tread the realms of idolatry.
So, instead of looking at what you think you are good at as a means of discerning God will, first discern what God is call and purpose for you is and remember, he will give you the gifts you need to fulfill that call! I can hear it already, “if determining our call by our gifts is not helpful then how do we determine our call?” Well, join us this Saturday and let’s talk about it!
Oh, and one last thing that might be helpful. Don’t forget the gifts of the Spirit are not about the one who has the gift. They are about others. They are for the purpose of service, building each other up and for the common good. They are centered and rooted in love and are ultimately about bring Glory to the One True God who is full of Love, Grace and Truth! Hmmmm, speaking of God’s will!!!